“It’s Not That, It’s Not That, It’s Not That!”

“It’s Not That, It’s Not That, It’s Not That.” If it’s not that, then what is art?

Avant-garde, is used to describe a group that creates or promotes innovative or experimental ideas in a given field, especially in the arts and literature. Clement Greenberg, was a modern art critic. He promoted abstract expressionism and the works of the painter, Jackson Pollock. Pollock was a gesturalist, which is an action painter. He did not think about the picture while painting. If we were viewing his art, we would look at his spots and splatters, track his actions, painting strokes, and the emotions behind them.

“Autumn Rythm”

Pollock’s, “Autumn Rythm,” for example was a  painting that was created in the moment. Even though it was effortless and extremely experimental, he was the first to create this form of art. Along with avant-garde rose a new phenomenon called Kitsch: popular, commercial art and literature. This was inexpensive and effortless art for the masses. Greenberg says, “Ambitious writers and artists will modify their work under the pressure of kitsch, if they do not succumb to it entirely.” Walter Benjamin, a German critic, philosopher, and writer, would agree with Greenberg’s quote about Kitsch. Benjamin said that the mass reproduction of art takes away the aura of art. When a piece of art falls into the hands of mass media, it loses its aura.

The Capitalist movement was a market based society controlled by the elite, who were making a fortune off consumerism. During this period art began to lose its essence and there were a lot of debates on the mechanical reproduction of art.  Harold Rosenberg, known for his art criticsim, said, “The painter no longer approached his easel with an image in his mind…Here the principle and the difference from the old painting, is made into a formula.” He is saying that new artists emerging into Modern Art were using old formulas of artists like Claude Monet or Paul Cezanne.

Claude Monet “Impression, Sunrise”

Paul Cezanne “Mont Sainte-Victoire”

During the Impressionist  era, artists like Claude Monet and Cezanne Paul used lighting and careful, individual brush strokes to draw a painting.  This was considered art. I believe this was a time when modern art was not “snobbish” and commercialized.

Ben Shah’s photograph

Painters went from using colors, brushes, lighting, texture, and brushstrokes, to a new cubist and abstract painting era and finally entered the realm of social realism, where photographs and posters were regarded as artwork. Ben Shah, influenced by Andy Warhol, did not draw the traditional landscapes. Instead his art work depicted social and political protests, racial injustice and economic hardship.

Now would Rosenberg and Greenberg call these  photographs true art? Is an advertisement an artwork when it’s trying to win people over with slogans and pictures of proletariat society?  I think this is a way of teaching and influencing people rather than having them realize the true esthetics of an artist and his or her artwork. Greenberg and Rosenberg, as well as I, would not call Ben Shah’s photograph of working men a piece of art, because though it shows something meaningful and beautiful, it was not created through esthetic means of drawing. It was created with the click of technology, which emerged from mass production.

Works Cited

Adorno, Theodor. ” The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception.” Online posting. 9 Feb. 2010. Woody Allen.                  14 Feb. 2010 <http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/adorno/1944/culture-industry.htm&gt;.

Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” Online posting. 9 Feb. 2010. Woody Allen.                    14 Feb. 2010 <http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ge/benjamin.htm&gt;.

Greenberg, Clement. “Avant- Garde and Kitsch.” Online posting. 9 Feb. 2010. Woody Allen. 14 Feb. 2010                                                  <http://www.sharecom.ca/greenberg/kitsch.html&gt;.

Rosenberg, Harold. “American Action Painters.” Online posting. 9 Feb. 2010. Woody Allen. 14 Feb. 2010                    <http://www.pooter.net/intermedia/readings/06.html&gt;.


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